Russia Reveals God’s Love

By Major Ruth Sundin – 

Over the past three and a half years, loving people in faraway places has been the theme of our lives. Each person who has sought Christ at our Salvation Army mercy seats both in Moldova and now in the Russian Northern Region has made a life-changing impact on us. Babies and children, men and women, the homeless, HIV/AIDS infected, and recruits and soldiers: “All are precious in God’s sight.”

Vadim Grigorev, the corps sergeant major at St. Petersburg Central, and “Mr. Salvation Army” in our region, recently died on a train platform as he was on his way to speak about the Army in another town. His far-reaching influence brought nearly 200 people together to remember his impact on our community at his memorial service.

Less than two weeks later, we were present at the junior soldier enrollment of his son, Pavel. Our hearts rejoiced to hear Pavel sing in Russian, “Kneeling in Penitence,” but also grieved to remember his father had missed this special occasion.

Early in March we were able to travel back to Moldova, a beautiful little country squeezed between Ukraine and Romania, where we had spent more than two years pioneering the Army’s work. Invited by the new regional officer, Captain Will Cundiff, we were the leaders for “Friends Sunday,” leading services and a youth meeting. What a joy to see God’s faithfulness in action as people still continue to seek him as Savior and Lord. Both corps were obviously continuing to grow, as they were packed with uniform-wearing soldiers, recruits, and friends.

It is overwhelming when we remember God’s love shown to us through his precious people. We pray every day God will give us strength and wisdom to continue to lead in his way in spite of a necessarily shrinking budget and with the loss of such a man as CSM Grigorev.

Our desire to serve Jesus in Russia is energized when we remember soldiers like Anna Marakulina, who challenged all our hearts when she led a recent soldier’s meeting. This young lady in her early 20s charged over 60 soldiers and officers to get busy doing the work of building the Kingdom of God, or go to another church that is not aggressive in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are encouraged by our new Russian lieutenants; five in our region out of a total of 12 corps officers. We also rejoice in the bumper crop of cadets entering the Institute for Officers’ Training in Moscow this September, as well as 15 recruits from our region who will be enrolled as soldiers in the first Russian Congress in May by General Paul Rader.

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